Edward Stein


A popular and intuitively plausible type of argument for the rights of lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals is based on claims that sexual orientations are inborn and/or unchangeable. Many advocates of such rights view expressing doubts about the immutability and innateness of sexual orientation as tantamount to opposing gay rights. Legally, claims that sexual orientations are innate and/or immutable intersect with the so-called immutability factor in equal protection jurisprudence. This article considers the legal, ethical, and empirical support for arguments for LGB rights based on immutability and innateness. I raise a variety of problems for such arguments in various contexts, including amicus briefs associated with recent Supreme Court cases about marriage equality for same-sex couples. My analysis helps explain and contextualize disagreement within the LGBT community about the wisdom and efficacy of appeals to immutability and innateness.